Sunday, April 29, 2012

Playground Science

Photo Credit: Gabriel Pollard - swing / teeter totter
The playground is a fantastic place to conduct physical science experiments. Bring the kids out to explore levers / balance, pendulums / force, ramps / friction, and simple pulleys!

Teeter Totter
1. Balance - Have a bigger kid sit on one end and a smaller on the other. The obvious will happen of course! The side holding more weight will bring the lighter side up. Now, have the larger kid scoot towards the center of the teeter totter away from the seat. What happened? By changing the placement of weight on the lever, the teeter totter will begin to balance the two weights. Have two kids sit on one side and one on the opposite. Using your science skills you gained from the above experiment, try to balance out the teeter totter to make it equal. 

1. Force and Frequency - Give a student one small push on a swing and tell them not to pump. Count how many times the swing moves back and forth within one minute. Next, give a student one gigantic push (no pumping) and record the same data. Then, have a student pump their legs with no push and count. Compare your findings. Does a small or large push without pumping produce better results than using your legs to pump? Which way produced the largest number for the amount of times the swing went back and forth in one minute? via ehow

2. Twist a swing and let it fly. Time how long the swing takes to untwist. Then, have a kid sit on a a twisted swing. Have the child extend their arms and legs outward when you let go. You'll notice that the swing's speed will slow down. By pulling weight away from your body, you're slowing down the swing. Next, try tucking all the weight inward during a spin. Did you go much faster?

3. Body Position - Try sitting, standing, and squatting on a swing during a swinging cycle. How does this affect amplitude? Visit Odec to find out! 

1. Friction - Test different toys out down a slide. What moves the fastest. Now, try splashing water on the slide. Does water increase speed? Try laying down different textures on the slide (smooth surface vs. rough) and talk about friction. Check out this awesome pdf all about ramps from Peep and the Big Wide World!

Monkey Bars or Tree
1. Create a simple rope pulley! Click here to find out how! Check out this cute video from Play Time is Essential!

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